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NCAAs and Sin City: March into Las Vegas for hoops madness and golf

Mike BaileyBy Mike Bailey,
Senior Staff Writer
Wynn Las Vegas - race and sports book
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Wynn Las Vegas is the only sports book in Sin City at a casino with an on-site golf course. (Courtesy of Wynn Las Vegas)

Some say the Super Bowl is the best time to be in Las Vegas, but if you're a golfer, it's hard to beat March. Why? Because of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, better known as March Madness.

Sixty-eight teams all across the country play a one-and-done event watched by millions every day, culminating with the Final Four April 6-8 in Atlanta. The best part for sports gamblers is there are games nearly every day for the first week or so.

That means you can put wagers on the games, go play a little golf, come back at night and watch games at some of the most elaborate sports books in the world.

Where to watch March Madness in Vegas

Just about every major casino, especially those on the Las Vegas Strip, has a sports book. Not only can you place a wager there, but many of them are great places to watch the games and even get a little grub.

The 30,000-square-foot Las Vegas Hotel & Casino Superbook (formerly the Hilton) remains one of the largest and most popular in town. Located near the convention center, there are 60 viewing monitors, including 28 large screens and a 300-square-foot viewing screen for the biggest events. Of course, some of the new casinos have tried to outdo the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino.

On the Strip, one of the most upscale sports books is the one at the Wynn Las Vegas Race and Sports Book. With dark wood decor and plus leather arm chairs, gamblers can catch the action on 37 high def screens, including one that's 12 feet by 12 feet. There's also a VIP lounge. The sports book is also adjacent to ZooZackers' Deli for those who'd like to grab a great sandwich while watching the game.

One of the can't-miss experiences in Vegas is checking out the sports book at Caesars Palace. After all, this is where some of the greatest sporting events (especially boxing) in the world have taken place, so what could be more appropriate? For high rollers, Caesars, which remodeled its sports book in recent years, has some of the highest betting limits in town. And for those addicted to parlays, the book offers daily cards, even on NCAA basketball games.

The best part is that pretty much every major casino has a sports book, so it's hard to go wrong at places such as Mandalay Bay, the Mirage, MGM Grand, Aria and the Hard Rock Hotel's Cantor Race and Sports Book, which has six high-definition projectors.

And if you're not near the Strip, not to worry: There are sports books there, too, such as at the Station casinos, Sam's Town and Green Valley Ranch, a favorite among locals.

Where to play golf in Las Vegas during March Madness

Early in the tournament, the NCAA plays many of its games during the day, but why waste the good weather glued to a television set? Get out and play golf; many of the courses run the scores on the GPS screens on the golf carts.

Of course, if you're looking to go right from the golf course to the sports book, playing on the Strip is ideal. Wynn has its own course -- Wynn Golf Club. It has flawless conditioning, is open to the public and the 18th green is just minutes from the sports book at Wynn Casino.

Bali Hai Golf Club, with its Pacific island feel, is on the Strip, too, right next to Mandalay Bay (by the way, Bali Hai is currently a $50 credit for NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament ticket holders; call 888-427-66789 and mention code NCAA13). And if you're looking for a something a little less expensive near the Strip, head over to Las Vegas Golf Club for an an old school Vegas-type experience. (This is where Tiger Woods won his first PGA Tour event.)

Most of the golf in Las Vegas, however, is away from the Strip but never far from a sports book. And if you like to do a little gambling on the course, you'll love the variety of courses at Angel Park, including a cool, lighted, par-3 course called Cloud Nine.

For something completely different, try the British Open experience of Walters Golf's Royal Links Golf Club. Or check out the views and elevated tees on the two courses at Revere Golf Club, the Lexington and the Concord. You can challenge Johnny Miller at Badlands Golf Club or Pete Dye on the three courses at Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort. And for some of the best greens in town among imported Carolina Pines, there's Desert Pines Golf Club, located in the heart of the city.

Where to find some good fast food

What goes best with golf and sports gambling? A little grub, and Las Vegas has no shortage of that either. For the sports bettor, though, a quick, inexpensive bite usually fills the bill. After all, this isn't the time to spend two hours at an expensive restaurant.

Most of the sports books offer food, but if you're looking for something on its own, there are plenty of great inexpensive choices. For a great burger, for example, check out I Love Burgers at The Palazzo (try the blueberry pancake milkshake), which also includes more than 40 different kinds of beers. Or if you're in a hurry on the way to the sports book, it's hard to go wrong with one of the In-N-Out locations throughout the city.

For a great inexpensive sandwich, there's the Earl of Sandwich at Planet Hollywood or the club sandwich at the Peppermill Cafe, located on the Strip between Wynn and Riviera. If you're looking for great, cheap pizza pie, try the secret pizza place (there's no sign) at the new Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, close to Club Marquee.

And for great, affordable tacos, you might want to head over Tacos El Gordo, just a few paces from Wynn Las Vegas on the Strip. They have street tacos, just like they do in Baja and about as cheap. It doesn't get much better than that.

More photos

Bali Hai Golf Club - No.11Silverstone Golf Club - Desert course - hole 7 greenEarl of SandwichDesert Pines Golf Club - no. 1Royal Links golf course

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trio to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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